Easter starts my first two week holiday for the year. There are nursery sales and mail order deliveries of plants to look forward to. It's too early for the winter clean up, though.

 Stephen, the saviour of sweeping lawns supervises the irrigation of the frisbee lawn.
Irrigating the Frisbee Lawn

Friday 13th April - Good Friday

Before I go outside today I have good news! The Colonial versus Native garden is organised! I have created a new path which separates the British lot and the roses etc. from the other lot. Today the bluebells can go in, and I intend to assemble a seat on the path with old bricks and a railway sleeper. A huge red flax which was being smothered by that naughty Golden Hop in Middle Border has been wheelbarrowed in. There is room near the seat for some of the spare Roseraie de L'Hays, but they will be on the British side. And so gardening parallels the history of the British Empire.

It's supposed to RAIN RAIN RAIN today (first time in 3 months), and there is a special Easter sale on at one of the nearby nurseries. Hmmm....


The sale was unspectacular, as I expected, but I bought some $1 perennials, most of which can spend the winter outside the glass-house. I am off outside now to build a seat, then I am going to clean up the glass-house. Where is that rain?

 The flowery one...
Which Cup to Choose?


The British bluebells are in, and so is the new seat - perfect for the winter sun and when the oaks grow bigger there will be summer shade as well. I will call it the Oak Tree Seat. I'm off now to get some more stones for the Oak Tree Path.

Saturday 14th April - Easter Saturday

Today I did general maintenance in the Hen-House Borders. The new Oak Tree Seat is great, with the gentle sounds of running water, and afternoon sun. I tested it with a cup of tea. Lovely ambience. Then I did lots of gorse and broom seedling pulling in Middle Border. Gardening can't always be dynamic and creative, and there is comfort in repetitive tasks.

Sunday 15th April - Easter Sunday

What shall I do first? Get stones? Tidy up pots? Plant daffodils on fence-line? Clean the gum leaves off the house decking? Will grab cup of coffee, walk around, and then decide.

Monday 16th April - Easter Monday

I cleared the decking and started cutting back in the Septic Tank border. Later I attacked (and hopefully got rid of) all the lilac phlox in Jeremy's border. This morning I am still in a ruthless spade slicing mood, and am going to deal to some errant grasses and the colony of lilac phloxes by the glass-house. Then I will organise the pots, and start the cuttings of ageratum and peppermint geranium. I will bucket some water onto the Astelia in the Wattle Woods (it has collapsed, and now looks like the dog has been sleeping on it). All this time the hoses will have been running. There is also a sad rhododendron to shift, and stones to get from the river.

Hmm... there is the mother of all lists hiding in that paragraph!

Tuesday 17th April

I ripped out the phloxes. I should give them to somebody! They don't mildew, and they are very robust... Today will be interesting. My hands are quite sore and so I have GLOVES to try out. One pair are flowery ladies ones, the others are decidedly surgical (a pack of latex ones labelled 'Tough Guy'). I also have intensive-care hand cream.

 Fairy Rose in front of a red flax.
The Fairy Rose


My violet flowered ladies gloves did the trick - just a gentle day pottering, not getting my sore hands dirty. I've done the front of house pots, and planted several patches of daffodils. I've also done edges. I need to rethink Stephen's border. I don't like the planting scheme at all - the bright pink flower carpet rose sets an unsubtle tone and the blue-leaved plants don't look right with it. What to do? I will consult some of my gardening books.

Wednesday 18th April

Lazy and moochy today. Went outside with spade blazing to remove offensive bright pink rose from Stephen's border. Couldn't do it, so went off down the driveway to weed and do penance. Came back inside and checked out a book with a colour wheel. Stared at the tints and hues. Hopeless. Went back out to Stephen's border, squinted at ghastly colour combinations, and made the decision to remove Artemisia and scruffy blue salvias.

Thursday 19th April

Today is going to be structured. I am going to be a proactive rather than a reactive gardener. I am going to think ahead. Here is the plan.

My Glasshouse :
I enjoy spending time in my glasshouse. No-body can find me there!

Firstly I am going to set up the glass-house for cuttings and seed sowing (locate permanent marker, tidy bench, etc.). Then I will take cuttings and quickly put them into pottles. Some of these will be for next spring's pots (peppermint geranium, helichrysum, verbenas, daisies and wallflowers. Others will be for ongoing stock (scrophularia, salvias, and penstemons). I will NOT create any new catmint plants or any salmon pelargoniums. I will be impressed by my restraint, good sense, clear labelling and forward planning.


A highly disciplined day. I've started a lot of pansy seeds as well as the cuttings. Everything is in rows, labelled and dated.

I am re-reading the Pope's book about colour plantings at Hadspen house garden. Good grief - such descriptive writing, full of musical and painting metaphors. Makes my writing seem as bland as a 1950s New Zealand cook book (scones and meatloaf). I'm puzzled by two things - Could I ever become a colourist gardener? What is that crazy dark maroon annual Atriplex Hortensis Rubra?

 These are the striped Canna named 'Pretoria'. They have only just been released in New Zealand.
mail order cannas

Friday 20th April

This morning I will do the vege garden. The tomatoes are sprawling everywhere, and have large GREEN fruits. Ridiculous, it's mid April. They are coming OUT. Humph... A box of mail order plants has arrived at the gate, including the striped leaf Canna Bengal Tiger. I will think hard about where to plant this.

Saturday 21st April

Light drizzle is falling, which is better than nothing. I am still re-reading the Colour book, which puzzles me. I couldn't be a colourist gardener. The writers confuse gardening with painting. At the end of the day (sun down, apres-gardening shirt on, etc.) this is just complicated nonsense. If I want to paint, I'll paint. This metaphor-ridden book is banished to the coffee table.

It's late in the day, and the drizzle has stopped. 3mm of rain - not enough! We irrigate the house garden again tonight. I'm off outside to plant a few clumps of daffodils before it gets too dark.

Sunday 22nd April

Aargh! This is the last day of my holiday. I've planted lots of daffodils. That's all.

Wednesday 25th April

A holiday today, for Anzac day. The mornings are getting crisper. Today I am just going to potter. Time for an animal report.

A fat, scruffy-feathered blackbird visits the house decking every morning, checking out the cat plates and generally hanging around. He stares at me through the glass. He pecks at a food bowl, then he hunkers down, as if flightless or injured (he's neither), to rest on the deck. Four cats use this area as a feeding table.

 Sifter snoozing on the carpet in cat lounge.
it's hard work being a cat

Big Fat Sifter the cat is spending a lot of time in the hay barn catching rodents. He's bringing them back to the house, displaying them, eating them (not the rats, unfortunately) and then cruising off down the back paddock again. When Big Fat Sifter is not pursuing food of some kind he finds the warmest spot and sleeps.


I've started clearing the tree roots from the garden by the back drive. I've laid mulch down and covered it with Blood and Bone. I hope the dog doesn't try to eat it. This garden now has irrigation and it may be possible to plant in some punga ferns. It is shaded all day but not too dark. A Fernery would be nice.

 Pretty pictures...
Daffodil Bulb Catalogue

Saturday 28th April

It's the end of April and still no appreciable rain. Yesterday the temperature in Christchurch was 27 degrees, and I HAD THE AFTERNOON OFF (sat in garden reading). This morning it's crisp and calm, and I'm going to do 'general garden maintenance' (that should cover it). I have daffodils to plant, I don't know where to plant the new stripy cannas, and the Pump House Garden needs sorting out. Gardens under gum trees are a challenge. Back soon.


Planting mixed daffodils is quite a reflective activity. In a way it's like planting dreams. What will they grow into? Will they die off painfully and look too scruffy? Will they grow at all? I might apply some of my new super strength hand cream and take a mellow walk around the garden with a glass of wine to think more about this.

Sunday 29th April

The last gardening day of April for me. It's early enough (8 am) and Sifter and I are watching the visiting blackbird poke around on the decking. Doesn't that bird know anything about cats? I blame the parents...

Daffodil Bulbs :
Good gardeners are always thinking ahead! I'll be really pleased next spring when I see the bulbs flowering.

What shall I do first? Maybe get stones. Or put the new rose garden to bed for winter. Yesterday I planted patches of mixed daffodils in there and removed two miniature roses, survivors from the time when this was the compost and rubbish heap. They are now in pots (where they originally came from). So the cycle starts again.

Later, apres gardening in navy blue...

I've planted more daffodils, reflected a little, and built up the stone edge of the dog-path by the Plank. I've spread more lucerne mulch around, sprinkled it with Blood and Bone, and shut the dog inside (he likes to roll in it and lick it - yuk!). Autumn is slow to develop this year.